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The 10 Top Websites and Scholarly Articles on School Safety

The Internet is full of information and scholarly articles on school safety, but sorting through all of the noise can be a challenge. We have done the work for you, presenting a list of 10 of the most powerful and informative school safety articles for students, parents, and administrators found online.

Schools are trying a variety of safety methods. They are utilizing everything from metal detectors to ID badges, to drug-sniffing dogs to security cameras and security guards, yet violence continues to happen in our grade schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges. Whether you are a parent, teacher, school administrator, or simply a concerned citizen, understanding the issues facing our schools today is important.

High school entrance with a blue security booth beside it

School safety used to encompass what in hindsight seems like simple things: tornado and fire drills, teachers telling kids not to run in the hallway or point sticks at each other, and the occasional bully or broken arm from a fall from playground equipment. But today, safety training in schools is a much more serious business. Sadly, today this  includes active shooter plans, emergency response teams, and some schools even opting to hire security guards, or install metal detectors outside of manned guard booths.

One of the first steps towards protecting our children is to understand what the situations are and what resources are out there. To help you get informed, the following is a list of ten websites and scholarly articles on school safety. For each of these top school safety articles for 2020 a brief summary is provided, as well as a link to the full article, booklet, or website:

1. Final Report of the Federal Commission on School Safety (2018). 

Perhaps the most famous and certainly the longest of the articles when one searches for articles on school safety, this 180-page document submitted to the President of the United States by the Department of Education is meant to keep the government informed on safety initiatives in our school. This booklet provides a variety of information about preventing violence in schools, protecting our kids while mitigating negative impact, and finally, response and recovery to emergency situations.

Booklet titled School Safety

2. A Framework for Safe and Effective Schools 

This is written by a group that, according to their website, “represent the educators and community partners who work day in and day out to keep our children safe, ensure their well-being, and promote learning”. This 18-page handbook provides a “framework” for educators that includes policy recommendations, best practices for creating safe environments, and a special section listing actions that school principals can take now to promote safety in their schools.

Booklet titled A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools

3. National Exercise Program: Principals’ Strategic Priorities

This brief but information-packed two-page article is not just one of the scholarly articles on school safety, but it relies on research and statistics to highlight the importance of school security. For example, the article states that: “The 2017 THIRA included pandemics as the second most frequently identified natural hazard.” The article goes into detail on ten principle strategies that need to be employed to keep school safety.

A circle with a diamond center and words around describing school safety

4. Safe Schools: A Best Practices Guide. 

Published by the Council of Educational Facilities Planners International (CEFPI), this is more than a school safety research paper. This article emphasizes the importance of building a secure infrastructure, how to use crisis communication to keep people informed, considerations in staffing in both preparedness and managing security issues, as well as specific procedures including how to create a built environment that facilitates safety.

Booklet titled Safe Schools

5. Preventing School Violence: An Inside-Out Approach to Security & Safety. 

Published by Omnigo, a software company whose motto is “ensuring safer tomorrows”, this 4-page .pdf file goes beyond software to provide a thorough overview of school safety. The philosophy behind the tips presented in this article are intervention, detection, and prevention. Of particular note, this article offers an excellent graphic about who is most likely to uncover a plot for school violence: Information that is instrumental in developing interventions.

Heading of a white paper on Preventing School Violence

6.Security is Not Safety: America’s Urgent Need to Transform School Culture to Stop Violence.

This is a publication of the Schools Insurance Authority of California, part of the Schools in Partnership program. This article focuses on two pillars of school safety: looking at security (starting from the outside and looking in) and looking at the school climate (starting from the inside). The idea here is that students make a difference in their school by setting the climate, and also seeing, hearing, knowing, and intervening before things go awry.

The Pillars of School Safety

7.U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cyber Infrastructure: School Safety and Security 

This piece goes beyond simply offering an article, but rather gives a comprehensive website, replete with not just scholarly articles on school safety, but information on enhancing school safety by using a threat assessment model, creating a targeted violence prevention plan, and a variety of downloadable school safety plans.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security logo

8.Active Shooter Situations: Responding to an Active Shooter Situation, by the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance Center. 

This article reminds us that, “Law enforcement officers may not be present when a shooting begins.” Thus, school leaders need to understand emergency management functions, anticipate hazards and threats, and provide tools for planning basics and principles of school safety.

A blue box infographic with various words and text about school security

9. School Emergency Planning & Safety

Written by the California Government to help keep their schools safer, this page is divided into four main sections. First is preparedness programs and resources for school administrators. This section is a listing of 15 different resources that can help administrators anticipate, prepare for, and hopefully prevent serious school security issues. The second section focuses on preparedness programs for inside the classroom. This section links to more than ten different resources including earthquake planning for kids, science class safety, and more. The third section focuses on school safety as a whole, linking to seven specific resources on averting school attacks and more. Finally, the last section of school planning links to three main guides and a variety of other resources on earthquake and other crisis response issues.

A school bus

10. NEA’s School Crisis Guide.

 This 92-page guide provides extensive information about school safety. It is divided into four main parts. Part one is on prevention, including creating a positive school climate, promoting safety, and preventing bullying and suicide. Part two focuses on preparation by creating crisis management teams and plans, communicating with parents, planning for recovery, and more. Part three focuses on response, counting down how to respond in the first hour, the first 12 hours, the evening, next day, the following week, and beyond. Part four focuses on recovery, including handling mental health needs, grief, and more.

An infographic with Prevent - Prepare – Respond – Recover

Want to read more about school security, check out this list of scholarly articles on school safety on topics ranging from cyberbullying to active shooters.
If you are an educator, school facilities manager or school safety manager, learning more about how to increase and improve school security in your own facility, and also consider the value a security guard or security booth might bring to your school.

A school with a red security booth

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